Desert Rose (Adenium) – Ultimate guide to growing and caring

Adenium obesum

Desert Rose (Adenium Obesum) is a rare beauty in our garden. It is easy to recognize and has beautiful flowers. Toxic species of flowering plant, Desert Rose (Adenium) is part of the Nerieae tribe, a subfamily of the Apocynoideae family. It is native to African Sahel, subtropical and tropical eastern Africa, as well as the Arabian Peninsula. It also goes by common names such as impala lily, kudu and mock azalea. 

In case you didn’t know, desert roses are a beautiful and fast-growing evergreen shrub that grows best in semi-arid climates with hot summers. This guide will give you tips on caring for your Adenium Obesum and help you avoid common problems.

Adenium obesum can be found in the Sahara Desert in Africa. It grows tall and spindly and can reach a height of up to 5 meters when grown in a sunny spot. The Bedouins of the Sahara have used this plant for thousands of years to make mats, blankets, ropes, baskets, and containers. It has been traded and used in the Middle East, India and China for hundreds of years. This is one of the rarest plants in the world and has been named after royals. It can grow in sandy or clay soils and is very drought-tolerant.

Desert Rose (Adenium obesum)

Adenium Care

Adenium is a small shrub that grows in dry places in Southern Africa. It has thick leaves that are long and thin and grow in a bunch at the end of a stem, which looks similar to an old human arm bone. It is native to the region around Cape Town, South Africa. Because the desert rose is a slow-growing plant adapted to dry conditions, it is not suitable for growing in temperate. However, it is easy to care for and needs very little water. Desert roses can grow up to three feet tall, and they thrive in full sun.  

The most important thing to remember about the desert rose is to limit the amount of water it gets. Remember to only water them enough to keep them healthy and thrive; too much water can cause rot if too much is left in the soil for prolonged periods. You may also place the Desert rose in a greenhouse or other protected environment. 

Adenium: Light and Soil

The best way to grow a plant is to provide it with the best environment possible. For example, if your Desert rose grows in highly acidic soil, it needs to be adjusted to be more alkaline. Likewise, if the plant is not receiving enough light to support the plant growth, adjustments such as relocating the plant to a sunny location will need to be made to provide more light. The Desert rose plant grows easily in almost any environment and will grow in a wide range of soils. However, it will only survive in areas where it receives full sun for 8 hours or more per day. This is why you should choose a location that provides direct sunlight.

Adenium obesum

Plants naturally tend to grow stronger when their roots system can spread widely; that’s why a plant that grows well in soil rich in organic matter will grow poorly in dense and restrictive soil. Desert rose plant (Adenium obesum) thrives in a wide range of climates, including the Desert, dry forests, and semi-arid woodlands. This is because the plant’s roots spread far and deep, making it a good candidate for establishing new gardens in areas with poor soil quality. In fact, Adenium obesum is often used in gardening as a drought-tolerant, low-maintenance ground cover

adenium obesum

Water and Fertilizer.

One of the most beautiful trees in the Desert, the adenium obesum is great for any garden. Its large, showy red flowers bloom year-round, and it proliferates and is drought tolerant. The Desert Rose plant (Adenium obesum) requires the least amount of water; provide water weekly in the spring and summer months for best growth. On the other hand, fertilize it once every four weeks to promote growth and yield. 

Temperature and Humidity.

Desert roses require consistent temperatures of between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit; they can tolerate temperatures as low as 20°F and as high as 105°F. They also prefer high humidity levels, and the soil around the plant should be kept moist but not soggy. Desert rose is a vigorous, erect perennial shrub growing 2 to 3 feet tall.


Types of Desert Rose.

  • Adenium ObesumAnother widespread variety is Adenium Obesum. It has a wide range of leaf sizes, from little to enormous. Plants can be as small as a sprig or as large as a tree.
  • SwazicumThe blossoms of this type are an excellent way to describe it because they are often magenta. I’m drawn to the blossom since it has unique colors and textures.
  • ArabicumArabicum is easily distinguished by its large caudex and abundance of stems. The undersides of the leaves are frequently ruffled. Typically, the flowers are smaller and pink in color.
  • SomalenseSomalense is a tall-growing cultivar that can be quite the focal point. There is usually a single primary stem with many branches growing out of it.

Propagating a Desert Rose from Seed.

  1. Place the seeds in a container, fill them with a potting medium, and water well.
  2. Water, your Desert, Rose every 4-5 days and ensure that planter does not sit in water all day; take it out of the extra water as soon as the soil is damp.
  3. Keep the container at a temperature between 80° and 85°F by using a heating pad. Once the seeds have germinated, only water the seedlings from below.
  4. The seedling is then ready for transplantation in about a month.

Adenium obesum

Root Cuttings Propagation. 

  1. Gather cuttings about 6 inches long from the top of a fresh branch and dry for at least two days before planting.
  2. Gather cuttings about 6 inches long from the top of a fresh branch and dry for at least two days before planting.
  3. If starting from seed, choose a potting mix designed to drain properly.
  4. Place the cutting end in the ground and water it thoroughly. You may need to dip the cutting end into rooting hormone as this will help accelerate the growth process.
  5. Every day, use a spray bottle to mist the cutting. Regular watering can also be adequate, as long as the soil is never let to become too wet.
  6. After the cuttings have taken root, you have around 5-6 weeks to decide whether or not to repot or transfer them.

Potting and Repotting a Desert Rose.

Repotting a plant is an important task. It is especially necessary when a plant has grown too big for its container. If you don’t repot it, the plant will not have the chance to spread its roots and grow. However, repotting a plant is not a difficult task. It requires a little preparation, and it is still manageable:

  1. Remove the plant from its pot. Do this carefully, and don’t pull off the roots; hence be gentle.
  2. Change the soil, ensuring that you clean the bottom of the pot you are reusing.
  3. Put the plant back in the soil and then water it.

Adenium obesum

How to Get Desert Rose to Bloom.

Desert Rose isn’t known for blooming at an early age, but it will eventually flower if you feed it and prune it. The secret to coaxing the plant into bloom lies in water, fertilizer, and sunlight. A well-watered and fertilized Adenium should produce abundant flowers in 4 to 6 weeks. To help the plant grow to its full potential, prune back old growth and encourage new shoots to emerge. Please don’t overdo it; Adenium needs to stretch out and take its natural course. When it comes to light, you want to give the plant a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day; however, don’t overexpose it, especially during the hot summers or when you first transplant. Keep your indoor plant near a window sill to receive sunlight enough. 

Common Problems With Desert Rose.

They are generally resistant to pests; however, mealybugs and aphids can do some damage. It would be best to watch for little white or yellow bugs on your plants since spraying a little white oil on the leaves and stems can help eliminate these pests early on. Spider mites are also a prevalent problem because of the dry climate. Regularly misting the leaves with water is all that is needed to solve this issue. However, please don’t overdo it, and avoid getting water on the soil. Many gardeners lament the yellowing, withering, and eventual wilting of their Desert rose leaves. Most often, overwatering causes the soil to get wet; this results in root rot that causes leaf loss and eventually the plant’s death. Once a week of no watering, begin to water less often after the soil has dried out entirely.

Desert Rose

Quick Summary

  • Adenium obesum is a shrub/small tree native to southern Africa, especially Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.
  • It has bright pink-red flowers and grows at the ends of branches or in clusters.
  • This plant is best grown outdoors in full sun. It can be planted in pots, window boxes, garden beds, and planters.
  • Desert rose trees bloom from July through September and continue blooming until the first frost.
  • These trees are drought tolerant and need only half-sunlight for good growth.

mock azalea

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Adenium need sunlight?

Desert roses have beautiful flowers and will grow easily in almost any environment. However, the plants will only grow and thrive if they receive full sunlight for at least 8 hours a day, a good reason why you should always choose locations that provide enough sunlight.

Is Adenium an indoor plant?

Yes, Adenium can be planted indoors and in so doing, place a houseplant near a window that receives at least eight hours of sunshine each day for optimal growth. However, if you don’t rotate the container regularly, the plant may not thrive.

Is Adenium poisonous?

Toxic to both humans and animals are all sections of the plant. It is possible to die from ingesting the plant’s milky white sap. It is known that some indigenous tribes in Africa and South America poisoned their arrows with sap to kill large animals, and the animals usually died within two miles of where it was shot.

impala lily

How do you care for Adenium plants?

Adenium is used as an indoor plant in many parts of Africa. It is often used in botanical art but sold as a houseplant in South Africa, Asia, and the United States. It has gained popularity due to its beauty, versatility, and ease of care. Adenium thrives indoors in temperatures ranging from 50 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and to keep it alive and thriving, it needs to be misted or watered frequently, at least once a week. To avoid having the plant sit in water, place it in a tray that can drain and provide adequate direct sunlight. Please do not put the plant in a spot with high humidity, and it does not need regular fertilizing. 

Where Can You Grow Them?

To find out where you can grow Adenium plants, you’ll have to do some research. While they can be found growing in some parts of Africa, they are still relatively rare in the United States. 

How Do You Protect Against Insects?

Adenium plants, such as Adenium obesum, can grow in a variety of soil conditions, including desert conditions, but need some care to survive. Several insects can kill or damage your Adenium, including aphids, mites, mealybugs, thrips, leafhoppers, and spider mites. All of these insects can be controlled using a variety of methods. Adeniums can be treated with various chemical insecticides, including malathion, permethrin, pyrethrin, rotenone, etc.


When Do You Mulch?

Mulch is one of those seemingly simple things we don’t seem to pay attention to. But mulch is a significant part of the overall gardening experience. Mulching your Desert Rose with a layer of organic material will help the soil retain moisture and prevent weed growth. When mulch is placed around the base of Adenium, its roots have a better chance of finding the water they need. This will help your plants survive drought conditions and make them more likely to thrive. You’ll be amazed at the difference mulch makes in your garden.


In conclusion, A desert rose tree grows in dry places and semi-desert regions such as Southern and Eastern Africa and Botswana. It is considered a drought-tolerant plant, able to withstand arid conditions for many years. Because of this, they are very useful in arid climates, where little or no rainfall is received. The most important thing to do is to make sure your plants get enough light. You should also keep the soil moist and the plant’s water level should not be too high or too low. If you follow these three steps, your plant will grow for a long time and will be happy!

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